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Johann Joseph Fux

Johann Joseph Fux

Although the Austrian composer, conductor, and theoretician Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741) was an important creative musician, he is best known for his treatise on counterpoint, "Gradus ad Parnassum."

Johann Joseph Fux was born in Hirtenfeld, Styria. There are no available details about his early training and career; he occupied his first known position in Vienna in 1696. In 1698 he was named composer to the imperial court. In 1704 he became second kapellmeister at the Cathedral of St. Stephen. He became second kapellmeister at the court in 1713 and, apparently in the same year, first kapellmeister. He occupied this prestigious post until his death on Feb. 14, 1741, in Vienna.

During Fux's tenure as kapellmeister the style at court was known for its so-called luxuriant counterpoint, even in such a predominantly melodic form as opera. His interest and scholarship in the theoretical discipline of counterpoint is captured in his Gradus ad Parnassum (1725). This work crystallizes the style distinction of the entire baroque era between an antique, learned, ecclesiastical style and a modern, more popular, predominantly secular style. Fux addresses himself to the details of writing in the learned style, which took as its supposed point of departure the contrapuntal writing of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. (The Gradus is written as a dialogue between Palestrina as master and Fux as pupil.) The Gradus preserves little of the essence of Palestrina's style, about which Fux could have had little firsthand knowledge; nevertheless it is an important musical document. It preserved important theoretical and practical details of contemporary musical thought; it was a tremendously influential work, which Haydn and Beethoven, among many others, studied; and its methodology prevailed into the 20th century.

Of the 405 extant works by Fux very few are available in modern publications, and these are mostly in scholarly editions. They include a large quantity of sacred music (50 Masses, 3 Requiems, 10 oratorios, vespers, psalms, and sacred sonatas) and 18 operas. The predominance of sacred music of an opulent kind befitting court use may explain the importance of contrapuntal writing in his operas, the most famous being Costanza e Fortezza, written for the coronation of the Emperor in 1723.

During this period Apostolo Zeno, who became court poet in 1718, was engaged in a reform of Italian opera in the interest of greater dignity and simplicity of organization. Since the imperial opera was not constrained by the economic austerity of the public opera houses of Italy, Fux could use choruses freely. For him, contrapuntal choruses in the sacred manner are organizing elements in the large scenic design. Unlike much Italian opera of the period, which concentrated on the solo aria, Fux's operas employ an ensemble of solo singers, while the large arias often use a concertizing solo instrument. His emphasis on contrapuntal structures was conservative and represented the older manner of treating musical texture.

Further Reading

The Gradus ad Parnassum is available as Steps to Parnassus, translated by Alfred Mann (1943). Also useful are Manfred Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era (1947), and Donald J. Grout, A Short History of Opera (1947; 2d ed. 1965). □

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Fux, Johann Joseph

Fux, Johann Joseph (b Hirtenfeld, nr. Graz, 1660; d Vienna, 1741). Austrian composer, organist, and theorist. Org., in Vienna 1696, court composer 1698–1705, choirmaster St Stephen's Cath. 1705, vice-Kapellmeister 1713, Kapellmeister and imperial choirmaster 1715. Opera Constanza e Fortezza perf. Prague 1723 during coronation festivities. His Gradus ad Parnassum (Vienna 1725) formulated rules for counterpoint. Wrote over 400 works, incl. 20 operas, 14 oratorios, c.80 masses, instr. partitas, etc.

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Fux, Johann Joseph

FUX, JOHANN JOSEPH

Preeminent baroque church musician in Austria; b. Hirtenfeld (Upper Styria), 1660?; d. Vienna, Feb. 13, 1741. His parents, simple country people, were Andreas and Ursula Fux. In 1680, as a young man, he began studies at the University of Graz, entered the Ferdinandeum, a Jesuit college, the following year, and apparently pursued further studies in Bologna. In 1696 he was appointed organist at the Schottenkirche, Vienna, maintaining this post until 1702; from 1698 he was also court composer to Emperor Leopold. From 1705 to 1715, when he became chief Kapellmeister to the court, he was music director at the cathedral of St. Stephen. His earliest composition (1697) is the Requiem for Archduchess Eleonora, Queen of Poland, performed also at the burial of Prince Eugene in 1737. This was followed by a seven-part Concentus musico-instrumentalis (1701) and his a cappella masterpiece, Missa canonica, both dedicated to the future Emperor Joseph I, and two operas (now lost), composed for saint's-day celebrations at court. His total compositions number more than 500 known items, some 300 of them for church use, including 60 Masses, 12 Requiems, 22 motets, 106 hymns, and several sonatas and settings of psalms and litanies, all distinguished by the perfection of his canonic writing, which even J. S. Bach admired. His great theoretical work, Gradus ad Parnassum (1725, dedicated to Emperor Karl V), is a fundamental textbook of vocal counterpoint; it played an influential part in compositional training for more than a century and is still consulted in one or other of many editions and translations. The first English version appeared in 1791.

Bibliography: Sämtliche Werke, ed. johann-joseph-fux gesellschaft (Kassel-New York 1959); Ausgewählte Kompositionen, ed. j. mitterer (Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich [1893 ; repr. Graz 1959] 3); Messen, ed. j. e. habert and g. a. glossner (ibid., 1); Steps to Parnassus, ed. a. mann (New York 1943), a new tr. of Gradus ad Parnassum. Also keyboard and instrumental works in various modern eds. o. strunk, ed., Source Readings in Music History (New York 1950) 535563, with excerpts from Gradus ad Parnassum. a. liess, Fuxiana (Vienna 1958); Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949) 4:115975. j. h. van der meer, Johann Joseph Fux als Opernkomponist, 4 v. in 3 (Bilthoven 1961). a. loewenberg and c. f. pohl, Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. e. blom, 9 v. (5th ed. London 1954) 3:527575. p. h. lÁng, Music in Western Civilization (New York 1941). d. j. grout, A Short History of Opera, 2 v. (2d, rev. and enl. ed. New York 1965). m. f. bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era (New York 1947). h. fedehofer, "Johann Joseph Fux," in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. s. sadie, v. 7 (New York 1980) 4346. d. m. randel, ed., The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music (Cambridge, Mass. 1996) 288. f. reidel, "Johann Joseph Fux: Vor 250 Jahren starb Österreichs großer Barockkomponist," Österreichische Musik Zeitschrift 46 (1991) 450457. n. slonimsky, ed., Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 8th ed. (New York 1992) 586. h. white, "Erhaltene quellen der oratorien von Johann Joseph Fux: Ein bericht," Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch, 67 (1983) 123131; "The Oratorios of Johann Joseph Fux" (Ph.D. diss. Trinity College, University of Dublin 1986); ed., Johann Joseph Fux and the Music of the Austro-Italian Baroque (Aldershot, Eng. 1992).

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Fux, Johann Joseph

Fux, Johann Joseph

Fux, Johann Joseph, renowned Austrian organist, music theorist, pedagogue, and composer; b. Hirtenfeld, near St. Marein, Styria, 1660; d. Vienna, Feb. 13, 1741. He was born into a peasant family. Fux enrolled in the Jesuit Univ. in Graz as a “grammatista” in 1680, then in 1681 he entered the Ferdinandeum there, a Jesuit residential school made up mostly of musically gifted students. He also studied at the Jesuit Univ. of Ingolstadt, being listed as logica studiosus in 1683. He served as organist at St. Moritz there until 1688. By 1696 he was in Vienna, where he was organist at the Schottenkirche until 1702. Fux was made court composer by the Emperor in 1698; about 1700 the latter is believed to have sent him to Rome, where he studied composition. He became vice Kapellmeister at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna in 1705, and was then its principal Kapellmeister from 1712 to 1715. He became vice Kapellmeister to the court in 1713. Fux was named Ziani’s successor as principal Kapellmeister to the court in 1715. Among his noted students were Gottlieb Muff at, G.C. Wagenseil, and J.D. Zelenka. Fux was the last representative of the Baroque tradition in composition and music theory in Austria. As a composer, he was an outstanding contrapuntist. He found inspiration in the a cappella polyphonic mastery of Palestrina, which led to his adoption of 2 contrasting styles in his sacred music: the stylus a cappella (without instruments) and the stylus mixtus (with instruments). In his solo motets, operas, and oratorios, he prepared the way for the Viennese Classicists. More than 200 works have been added to the original 405 cataloged by Kochel. As a music theorist, he produced the classic treatise on counterpoint, Gradus ad Parnassum (1725). It had a profound influence on his successors, and remains an invaluable textbook.

Works

DRAMATIC Opera (all 1st perf. at the Hoftheater, Vienna, unless otherwise given): II fato monarchico, festa teatrale (Feb. 18, 1700; music not extant); Neo- exoriens phosphorus, id est neo-electus et infulatus praesul Mellicensis, Latin school opera (1701; music not extant); L’offendere per amare ovvero La Telesilla, dramma per musica (June 25,1702; music not extant); La clemenza d’Augusto, poemetto drammatico (Nov. 15, 1702; music not extant); Julo Ascanio, re d’Alba, poemetto drammatico (March 19,1708); Pulcheria, poemetto drammatico (June 21,1708); // mese di Marzo, consecrato a Marte, componimento per musica (March 19, 1709); Gli ossequi della notte, componimento per musica (July 15, 1709); La decima fatica d’Ercole, ovvero La Sconfitta di Gerione in Spagna, componimento pastorale-eroico (Oct. 1, 1710); Dafne in Lauro, componimento per camera (Oct. 1, 1714); Orfeo ed Euridice, componimento da camera per musica (Oct. 1, 1715); Angelica vincitrice diAlcina, festa teatrale (Sept. 14, 1716); Diana placata, componimento da camera (Nov. 19, 1717); Elisa, festa teatrale per musica (Laxenburg, Aug. 28, 1719); Psiche, componimento da camera per musica (Nov. 19, 1720); Le nozze di Aurora, festa teatrale per musica (Oct. 6, 1722); Costanza e Fortezza, festa teatrale (Prague, Aug. 28, 1723); Giunone placata, festa teatrale per musica (Nov. 19, 1725); La corona d’Arianna, festa teatrale (Aug. 28, 1726); Enea negli Elisi, ovvero II tempio deU’Eternita, festa teatrale (Aug. 28, 1731). O r a t o r i o s : Die Heilige Dimpna, Infantin von Irland (1702; only part 2 extant); La fede sacrilega nella morte del Precursor S. Giovanni Battista (1714); La donna forte nelle madre de’ sette Maccabei (1715); // trionfo della fede (1716); II disfacimento di Sisara (1717); Cristo nell’orto (1718); Gesu Cristo negato da Pietro (1719); Santa Geltrude (1719); La cena del Signore (1720); Ismaele (1721); // testamento di nostro Signor Gesu Cristo sul calvario (1726); Oratorium germanicum de passione Domini (1731; musk not extant). OTHER SACRED: II fonte della salute, aperto dalla grazia nel calvario, componimento sacro (1716); La deposizione dalla croce di Gesu Cristo Salvator Nostro, componimento sacro per musica al SS. Sepolcro (1728); about 80 masses; Te Deum for Double Choir (1706); motets; vespers and Psalms; antiphons; offertories; hymns; etc. INSTRUMEN TAL: About 50 church sonatas; some 80 partitas and overtures; Concentus musico-instrumentalis (1701); keyboard works.

Writings

Gradus ad Parnassum (Vienna, 1725; partial Eng. tr. as Steps to Parnassus: The Study of Counterpoint, N.Y., 1943; 2nd ed., rev., 1965, as The Study of Counterpoint); Singfundament (Vienna, c. 1832); Exempla dissonantiarum ligatarum et non ligatarum (publ. in H. Federhofer, “Drei handscriftliche Quellen zur Musiktheorie in Osterreich um 1700,” Musamensmusici: Im Gedenken an Walther Vetter [Leipzig, 1969]). A complete ed. of his works, ed. by H. Federhofer and O. Wessely under the auspices of the J.J. Fux-Gesellschaft, began publication in 1959.

Bibliography

L. von Köchel, J.J. F. (Vienna, 1872; includes thematic catalog and list of works); A. Liess, Die Triosonaten von J.J.F. (Berlin, 1940); idem, F.iana (Vienna, 1958); J. van der Meer, J.J. F. als Opernkomponist (3 vols., Bilthoven, 1961); E. Wellesz, K (London, 1965; new ed., 1991, as J.J. F.); C. Rutherford, The Instrumental Music of J.J. F. (diss., Colo. State Univ., 1967); R. Flotzinger, F. Studien (Graz, 1985); B. Habla, ed., J.J. F. und die barocke Blasertradition (Tutzing, 1987); R. Flotzinger, ed., J.J. F.-Symposium Graz ’91 (Graz, 1992); H. White, ed., J.J. F. and the Music of the Austro-Italian Baroque (Aldershot, 1992); A. Edler and F. Riedel, eds., J.J. F. und seine Zeit: Kultur, Kunst und Musik im Spatbarock (Laaber, 1996).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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